Andrew Breitbart is dead. No matter how much time passes, that will never make sense to me. It’s been five years since Cathy Seipp, the friend who introduced me to Andrew, died – and THAT still doesn’t make sense. In fact, the last email Andrew and I exchanged was about how often we wish Cathy were still here to comment on this crazy world, and how it still doesn’t quite compute that she is dead.
Now they’re both dead, and none of it makes sense.
What I selfishly feel about Andrew’s death is that I have lost a protector. He was always looking out for me, even (especially?) when I wasn’t looking out for myself. He urged me for years to leave London, knowing how unsafe it was. After I was mugged and assaulted (two separate incidents), he told me our mutual pal Greg Gutfeld was moving to New York and I should consider doing the same – or at least getting back to the US. Less than two months later, I took his advice.
You should know this about Andrew: The last time we talked, I asked him to speak at an event this coming June. His reply: “Interested. What’s the upside, other than getting to hang out with you, of course!” When push came to shove, he wanted to know if it would be worth time away from his family, and I couldn’t honestly say yes. His wife and kids needed him, so he was only traveling if strictly necessary.
Andrew was in love with his wife Susie in a way few men are still in love with their wives after so many years together. I used to tease him years ago, greeting him with, “Is your wife knocked up again?” – because it seemed like she always was. They had four children, and he was completely devoted to them. He was even besotted with his in-laws, the actor Orson Bean and his wife Alley (Mills) Bean. Andrew loved nothing more than to be with his family.
The other thing to know is that Andrew really, truly did not care about the people who hated them. He ate their hate like it was love, and wanted his friends to be similarly unaffected by vitriol thrown their (our) way. You didn’t like Andrew? You didn’t agree with him? You didn’t approve of how he lived? That was okay by him, because he never felt the need to be anything you wanted him to be. You could be you, he would be Andrew, and that was how it was supposed to be.
I can imagine telling him, “Andrew, there are people cheering your death and saying they wish you had been tortured first!” He would laugh and say, “So?” To borrow from our late friend Cathy: Death is like invisible ink – it brings out what people are really made of, and sometimes, that’s evil.
But Andrew laughed, was always smiling and seeing the funny side to the most infuriating things. He was often silly (in the picture above, taken in Matt Welch and Emmanuelle Richard’s back yard at 2am after we’d spent the day at Cathy’s pre-mortem roast, he’s acting out a scene from the first Jackass movie).
I didn’t see eye to eye with Andrew on several political issues, but…So? It was just politics. We were friends, and I knew how his values led him to what I viewed as incorrect opinions. But did it really matter that he wanted drugs to remain illegal and I didn’t? Not to me, and not to him. It was almost absurdly irrelevant, even though we both felt strongly about the issue (to name but one).
I don’t have enough appendages to count the number of times he did something HUGE for someone and never claimed credit. Andrew was a humble guy, which made the spotlight on him all the more surreal. Only his total apathy about others’ opinions made it possible for him to cultivate his media following the way he did. Because he had NOTHING to hide, and was exactly the same guy in private that he was on TV.
It’s telling that Andrew spent two hours before his death conversing with a stranger who disagreed with his politics but liked him so much that they exchanged contact details and planned to keep in touch. That was Andrew.
Andrew Breitbart is dead and it makes no sense. As he might say, “So?” For his friends: So that sucks. So it’s unfair. So it hurts. For his family: So his wife is a widow. So his kids might never realize or remember how much their dad loved them.
But I’m glad that, 43 years ago, Andrew was born and adopted by parents who turned him into the guy I knew, respected, laughed at, laughed with, and adored. The world is poorer for his loss, but I will try to emulate his thick-skinned ways in a world full of narcissists, jerks, and just plain damaged goods. He’s not around to protect me anymore, so I should pick up the slack.
Andrew, you were loved by so many people, and we are devastated to lose you. Give our love to Cathy in whatever afterlife for non-practicing Jews and atheists I’d like to believe you’re hanging out in, dissecting the news of the day.
Other tributes far more eloquent than mine include: